Upon reflection of my life, I am thankful for those who have been compassionate to me. A good dose of compassion was necessary to temper many of my well-verbalized opinions, immaturities and failings. Compassionate people surrounded me, forgave me and accepted me as I matured. In difficult times, the open hearts of compassionate people bandaged my wounds and set my feet upon the right course again.
To be compassionate means to sympathize or empathize with a person's suffering and to want to alleviate it. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was compassionate as He looked upon the crowds of people who constantly followed Him. Many were desperate for compassion as they pressed in on Him. Compassion was a way of life for Jesus. Although Jesus was always compassionate, He was not overly emotional or sentimental in dealing with those around him. On a few occasions, Jesus gave some people hard advice and hard words to follow. Yet it was the most compassionate thing He did for them.
The Hebrew word for compassion is taken from the root word rechem, which means womb." I believe that to extend compassion to a person means, symbolically, to carry him or her in your womb. In the womb of compassion the suffering are protected, nurtured and given what is good for them. They are carried until they are strong enough to come out of the womb. They must not be carried any longer than is necessary. That would be counter-productive and actually harmful.
In expressing God's love to those around you, remember the "womb of compassion." Carry the suffering in your womb. Release those who are ready to be freed from the womb. Be thankful for those who carried you in the womb of compassion when you suffered. In so doing, you will show true compassion.
Bonnie Wilks lived on a kibbutz in Israel for more than two years. Not Jewish herself, she has a love for Jewish people and Jewish evangelism. She and her family live in Grand Prairie, Texas, where her husband is presiding pastor of Shady Grove Church. Bonnie is active in missions and prayer for Israel.
This content was adapted from an earlier Jews for Jesus article.